Oprah Winfrey Says No

LTTE publicity stunt ‘Walk to Oprah Show’ fizzles

By Hassina Leelarathna

(April 20, Los Angeles, California, Sri Lanka Guardian) The much-publicized ‘Walk to the Oprah Winfrey Show’ by a group of Sri Lankan Tamils from Canada has gone down as a ‘walk to nowhere.’

A spokesperson for the Oprah Show confirmed there were no plans to feature the walkers on the show. The announcement comes in the wake of an online petition opposing the walk reaching a count of over 16,000.

The Oprah Show became an unwitting Eelam battleground after the group’s six men, claiming to be ‘students,’ declared they had started trudging from Toronto to Chicago, Illinois, a distance of 840 kilometers (520 miles), with the stated purpose of appearing on the Oprah Show ‘to publicize human suffering.’ The first day of the walk was March 4.

While carefully avoiding any reference to the war in the Wanni and the Tigers, the event carries the hallmarks of a well-organized LTTE stunt, with advance media publicity and a website exclusively launched to record the walk. Titled ‘Oprah, Give us a Voice’ and bearing Oprah’s photo in the header, the web site includes a public poll titled ‘Should Oprah Give Us a Voice’ and a comments section, both blatantly manipulated to show an overwhelming number want Oprah to feature the walkers on her show.

In response, the Los Angeles-based activist group, Sri Lankan Patriots (SLP), salvoed an online petition titled ‘Oprah, Say no to LTTE Terrorists,’ warning Ms. Winfrey the walkers were sympathizers of a brutal terrorist outfit and calling on her not to feature them on her show.

Since its creation just a week ago, the petition has drawn a whopping 16,000-plus signatures from Sri Lankans and others worldwide.

“The response has been incredible, “says SLP secretary Gamini Edirisinghe who expressed gratitude to those who rallied to sign the petition. “We did not believe that Ms. Winfrey would allow pro-Tiger elements on her show. We are also well aware of what happens if you don’t oppose giving LTTE supporters a chance on American TV, especially after M.I.A. and the Tavis Smiley Show,” Edirisinghe said referring to the infamous ‘genocide’ charge the Grammy-nominated rapper made during an interview on the PBS show against the Sri Lankan government.

Oprah Show representative Dan Halcombe said the staff has seen the petition asking Oprah not to publicize the walkers.

Asked if the ‘students’ will be appearing on the show he said: “We have no current plans to feature them on the show.”

They are also aware of the ‘Oprah, give 'Us a Voice’ website, he said, adding “…we are not affiliated with or connected with the website. It is the students' website.”

According to the ‘public poll’ numbers given on this site, more than 80,000 people have voted with 81% saying Oprah should give the walkers a voice. These figures look skewed because large numbers of Sri Lankans opposed to the walk are known to have voted on the site, misled by a few expatriates who believed the site was being run by the Oprah show and that the poll would reflect accurate numbers. The numbers have jumped from a mere 2000-some in a matter of a few days.

A review of the ‘Oprah Give us a Voice’ site, raises several other questions of credibility. The walk was planned to take two months, a mere 8 or 9 miles a day, not much of a walk for young, strong men. Are they really ‘students’ and have they walked for 45 days as the site states? The photos documenting the walk are sparse, 57 in all, averaging less than 2 a day.

Today (April 20) is said to be Day 45, but the blogging stopped a month ago, on March 19, Day 16 of the walk. The last location was London, Ontario, about 100 miles from the starting point.

London has a large Tamil community and the local media was at hand to publicize the walk. Despite the fact that they had averaged just a little more than six miles a day, a sympathetic ‘London Free Press’ said the walkers were ‘battling colds, fevers’ and ‘bruised toes.’

“ Before leaving London tomorrow evening for Windsor, they plan to volunteer in homeless shelters,” the newspaper said.

The blog entries blog don’t mention colds or blisters and there is no mention of volunteering at homeless shelters.

As identified by Tamilnet, the walkers are: Vijay Siveneswaran, Kris Balasingam, Marlan Rajah, Kannan Sreekantha, Myron Rajah, and Ramanan Thirukketheeswaranathan. (End)
-Sri Lanka Guardian
Unknown said...

Sri Lankan Patriots in USA "GOOD JOB". Silently you'll do a Great Job. There are many other Strong Patriots organizations all over the World. You'll should get together and coordinate your work so you'll can do wonders to change the image of Sri Lanka and make it a better place for all of us to live. Thank you and I signed your petition few days ago.

SINHAYA said...

Excellent work friends, We in Canada have been writing to her show directly, as well as signed the petition. Goes to show our collective voices are getting the needed attention. Leave the LTTE to make the ugly, loud protest noises, and inconvenient the western cities (which the west is getting tired of). Let's all the good work silently and voice our concerns where it matters.

daughterofeelam said...

SL patriots in SL.Patting yourselves on your backs?

understand the spokespersons simple english ---CURRENTLY-----

Do not fret too much.we wait to hear from Oprah.


Justice said...

I guess the sinhalese propaganda theme is anything tamils ask for is considered an ltte stunt. Shame on people who consider themselves peaceful and propergate such hate.

Unknown said...

I address the daughter of Elam who is dreaming. Sri Lanka is a country for all people although you people are claiming Genocide and Discrimination when there are many of your people living a good lives and enjoying privileges. The LTTE cannot get away from violence against its own people. The Tamil Civilians are of little value to the LTTE. Shame on you to call yourself a Tamil and support those who kill your own people. What happened to the moderate Tamil politicians? Who killed them? Even the civilians who were running for their lives today (Apr 20th) were shot and suicide bombed. What barbarians. There's no more room for violence in Sri Lanka. No more LTTE killers will be tolerated. Oprah is not a fool. She would have researched all about the killers you all support. The Sinhalese people have shown more compassion for the civilians than all of you. Did any of you tell the LTTE once to let them go free? NO. Do you love your people or the LTTE killers? Elam? What Elam? To kill your people?

Unknown said...

Did they even walk from Toronto? No one has seen any one walking. Oprah's is not a fool to allow you'll to come on her show to spread lies and hatred. It's a publicity stunt and nothing else. If you just asked your leader to allow the civilians go, there would be no crisis. Any ways there's only few days left and you'll are aware of the capabilities of the Sri Lankan forces. Sinhalese people gave in for too long. SL Government invited your uneducated leader for peace talks, ceasefires but he did not have the brain to understand any of those good deeds. Now the last hour has come. We really understand the situation of all the Terrorist Supporters but we will do our best to look after the brothers and sisters who escaped from LTTE.

Nilu said...

Dear Friends

Thank you for signing the pettition. I signed it yesterday.
Together we can do wonders.


Unknown said...

Students!!!!!I wonder when I looked at their faces.May be who have failed so many times as they are not forcussed on education.Have a mirror in front of you.You are living in foreignland with sympathy vote.Have you forgotten quality tamil community still live among Sinhalese&Muslims.You want your own tamil bro.Sis to be inthe war,So you add fuel from elswhere.You want the poor youth to suffer as you could bring up your children safe as Uncle Prbha did to his bitchie daughter(if I was an offspring I would have killed my own father Prabhaharan long before) and idiotic looking chubby son.Come on what have you all done to uplift the life style of poor tamils in SL.You throw few dollars being away from the country from the money that you earn from cleaning garbages of England,Canada ,Norway etc.This is called our unfortunate crow culture.

cee eee said...

Yes daughterof eelam
You are absolutely right "-Currently-" But within the next few hours the game will be over for you guys and Oprah will not be showing the rotten smelly walkers but your beloved leader and the rest of the goons in pieces and your poor reletives enjoying the long awaited freedom.
cee eee

Unknown said...

The article clearly states that the Oprah Winfrey Shows said "currently" they have no plans. Of course this is true. They cannot air the show without talking to the boys and Oprah first.
The report above doesn't mention the fact that Oprah will speak to the boys. That's all they wanted. She will hear them out and from that, she will make the necessary decisions about her show.
The fact the Sri Lanka declined Obama’s request to end the war will work in our favour.

To add, If you look at the polls ,Current Results Show:
Yes - 79% (71300)
No - 20% (17825)
Total Votes: 89125
If you go to: Oprah Winfrey, Say No to Tamil Tiger Terrorists Petition
There are 17758 signed signatures which is roughly what the poll says. So the poll is correct. For those who are unaware, everyone (i.e IP addresses) are only allowed one vote. Which means the same person (IP address) cannot vote twice – this makes the polls fair.

We also received numerous txt messages, emails and facebook messages asking us to vote. Over 250,000 protested in London two weeks ago. There are a lot more Tamils around the world than people think

The photos show blisters. And blog entries and photos stopped because these boys are more worried about getting to their destination than updating the Sinhala public that are trying to stop them. They are talking to media and working on more important things.
I'm sure the Oprah show is well aware of where they are and when they will arrive at Harpo Studios - The Tamils certainly do :)
I'm sure you would have heard of the mob attacks on Tamils by the Sinhalese around the world (Melbourne for example) and the threatening phone calls we are getting to stop the protests - well why would the boys advertise where they are - they will only get a bunch of idiots attacking them. To be fair. They are only 6 boys – they cannot fight a bunch of crazy attackers who will come at them with knifes (like we did during our protest) and who knows what else. They are walking in areas where there are not witnesses – no smart person would advertise where they are.

Also, Who do you think Oprah will listen to - people that are sitting around writing and signing petitions or people that have WALKED 850km to see her. I'm she's doing her research as we speak and she's smart. She knows that SL doesn't allow international media in and that they are hiding something. She'll get the truth. She'll take the time to listen to these boys. They are doing this for the innocent civilians. That’s what’s important to us.

The reason why the walk is taking long is that they are bringing awareness to each city they visit. They talk to media, work on logistics and rest between walks. Maybe it's hard for people to understand that it's hard to walk when you're working against the conditions. It's not like Sri Lanka. It's freezing cold in Canada.

This is an innovative move by the Tamil boys and I’m proud to say I’m Tamil. We are doing everything we can to stop the genocide. We have come through years of oppression and we are fighting for equal rights. We are risking our lives to save our own. Protests, Mountain Climbs, Walks from one country to another and hunger strikes prove that we want peace more than anyone else in Sri Lanka.

The truth is that these guys are doing it for the civilians in Sri Lanka. The women, the men and children who are caught up in the war. People should stop the hate and start the support. They are doing it for SRI LANKANS – unless you believe that Tamils don’t deserve the same rights as the Sinhalese– we are all human, aren’t we? We should be treated equally.

God Bless Vijay Siveneswaran, Kris Balasingam, Marlan Rajah, Kannan Sreekantha, Myron Rajah, and Ramanan Thirukketheeswaranathan!

Sybil said...

The TRUTH cannot be manipulated. Thank You, Oprah for being discerning and not falling prey to vicious Tiger terrorists.

pro_human_life said...

If you seriously think that killing THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of INNOCENT civilians every week by the SL army is ok - then go ahead vote for your ridiculous petition that is completely a LIE - can't believe any sane human being would frame the tamil students as terrorists. They are peacfully walking for their fellow tamils' in sri lanka who are treated as slaves and being tortured every single day - You are all bloody ignorant and inhumane. Just like the jews got eradicated, this is the SL government's plot to eradicate tamils as if they were not human beings. To all the singlasese people votig for their petition out there - HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU WERE THE MINORITY GETTING WIPED OUT? Seriously, you are all extremely ignorant if you don't see the TRUTH. Read up on your damn history - then you'll know that the tamils starting fighting for their freedom against the singhalese thugs that began the raping, killing and slaughter of tamils. It was merely self-defence and now you're defending a party that is equal to or worse than the Nazi's. Get some education and read up on unbiased objective history from the last 100years then you'll realise that you signing that petition is the same as signing to allow the deaths of thousands of innocent human beings. Obviously, this is a huge conspiracy. DON'T BE IGNORANT OF THE REAL AND HIDDEN TRUTH. 'Sybil' above, is obviously as ignorant as the rest of you people believing that they are terrorists. How would you feel if tomorrow, you knew, that more innocent people are going to die - what if they weren't tamils, what if they were singhlase? When was the last time innocent singhalese civilians died in sri lanka? NEVER - only the tamils continue be killed - don't you see that there is something wrong with your view? You must all become more aware of what makes more sense and what is reall ythe truth. Deep down every singhalese man or woman knows that tamils are being killed for no reason. They know it - they are just too scared to accept it.

DPRAJ26 said...

Ladies & Gentlemen,

This is the very base of freedom (to express yourself) that is demonstrated.

LTTE propaganda or not I think the 'students' have all the right to say what they have to say.

It is the organizers of the show's responsibility to do their own research and decide what to do.

I can understand the Sinhala community for getting upset over this, but it is the Sinhala community which perpetrated the atrocities that had lead to things now in Sri Lanka.

So, let them express themselves the reason for what & why they are are there.

PEACE for ALL said...

Great work !!

As a SRI LANKAN i would say one thing to all who are blaming our government regarding violence on tamils. Just have a look on all the facts, the government and the majority of sinhalese are not letting down the tamils, but without any concern about the race and other facts, they are providing their FULLEST SUPPORT TOWARDS TAMILS.

* we are against the LTTE, NOT THE TAMILS!!

A L L...

Unknown said...

Funny how the comments from the Tamil Diaspora are all the same. Brainwashed! And they never ever respond to any actual footage like the thousands of Tamil civilians running away from the LTTE and the LTTE shooting them down. The World saw the footage but not the Tamil Diaspora.
Even in the international news when interviewing the Ltte Tamil supporters, they cannot give an answer to the question on the footage.
If the tamil civilians wanted to be with the LTTE, why are thousands and thousands running to the Govt. held areas and why are the LTTE shooting them as they are running?????? Please watch the actual international footage!!!!!